The latest redo of an Asian horror film -- in this case, Thai -- to prove disappointing in its Hollywood-made incarnation, "Shutter" demonstrates that the subject of spirit photography, which has been a point of speculation for more than a century, might have passed its peak. After all, once we've seen ghosts emerge via videotapes, cell phones, computers and nearly every other technological device known to man, seeing them appear through Polaroids feels a bit retro.
In an homage to its Asian roots, the film is set largely in Tokyo, where star photographer Ben (Joshua Jackson) and his new wife, Jane (Rachel Taylor), have arrived for his latest high-profile shoot. Unfortunately, they've barely gotten there before they have a serious car crash, caused by a mysterious woman on a dark, snowy roadway who promptly disappears.
Pretty soon the same apparition -- apparently seeking revenge -- shows up repeatedly in Ben's photographs, wreaking no small havoc with his career. Things get even more serious when Bruno (David Denman), Ben's boss, and Adam (John Hensley), a sleazy models' agent, fall victim to mysterious attacks. The increasingly agitated Jane attempts to discover the identity of the malevolent ghost, but she doesn't like what she ultimately finds.
Strictly perfunctory in its concept and execution, "Shutter" presents the usual series of spooky images of a deadpan female ghost showing up at odd times and moving in the slow, jerky movements that are de rigueur for the genre. Genuine scares are few and far between, and the climactic explanation for the ghost's appearances comes as something less than a revelation. It must be said, however, that the final screen image, taking place in a mental institution, is subtly unsettling.
Jackson displays his usual likable screen presence, and Taylor manages to look absolutely gorgeous even while terrified. But despite their respectable efforts, "Shutter," like the similar remakes that have preceded it, demonstrates that Hollywood might have gone to the Asian horror well a little too often.
A Regency Enterprises presentation
New Regency/Vertigo Entertainment/Ozla Pictures
Director: Masayuki Ochiai
Screenwriter: Luke Dawson
Producers: Taka Ichise, Roy Lee, Doug Davison
Executive producers: Arnon Milchan, Sonny Mallhi, Gloria Fan
Director of photography: Katsumi Yanagijima
Production designer: Norifumi Ataka
Music: Nathan Barr
Co-producers: Paiboon Damrongchaitham, Boosaba Daorueng, Visute Pool Voralaks, Yodphet Sudsawat
Costume designer: Akiko Nomura
Editors: Michael N. Knue, Tim Alverson
Ben: Joshua Jackson
Jane: Rachel Taylor
Megumi: Megumi Okina
Bruno: David Denman
Adam: John Hensley
Seiko: Maya Hazen
Ritsuo: James Kyson Lee
Akiko: Yoshiko Miyazaki
Running time -- 85 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13